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Public business belongs in public

If the council has problems with the mayor's nominees, let's hear them

The tale of conflict between Medford's mayor and a council member over city Water Commission appointments reads like a story still missing a chapter or two.

We know there was conflict, but we don't know where it started.

We know a council member went to lengths to orchestrate a vote, but we don't understand his motivation.

We know communication failed, but we don't know how, exactly.

That's the problem when public servants try to handle business privately. The public is no longer served.

The issues around this situation began emerging last week, when Mayor Lindsay Berryman arrived at a City Council meeting with a list of possible Water Commission appointees. The city charter stipulates that appointments are made by the mayor and confirmed by council members.

— In this case, however, Berryman made a nomination only to have the council unanimously reject her choice. So she nominated another. Same result. Then another with the same result.

Finally she nominated the last of the four applicants ' Jack Day, who has served on the commission 15 years. The council unanimously approved.

Berryman says she didn't learn until just before the meeting that council member Jim Key had called each of theother council members and asked for support of Day's reappointment. Key, the council's liaison to the Water Commission, noted the commission has a new director. He said he didn't think it needed a new board member as well.

For the record, this is not a question of Day's ability. He has served at length and presumably has done a fine job.

Berryman says her goal was to give someone new a shot on the Water Commission, which is heavy with experience. That seems to make sense. Of four other board members, three are experienced players: Mel Winkelman, Leigh Johnson and former Medford mayor Lou Hannum. It's hard to imagine a newcomer would upset the apple cart.

Key's motivation here is less clear. If it was important to him that Day remain on the commission, why not make the discussion public? Why blindside the mayor? Why start a debate about what really happened?

Because now the public does have questions. They color Day's appointment, Key's approach and even the council's ability to carry out its duties.

A worthy tribute

Jeff Levin, own of MacLevin's restaurant in Jacksonville, deserves the thanks and support of fellow business owners and residents for a project he has launched.

Levin is trying to collect &

36;10,000 in donations to pay for a statue honoring the town's best-known pioneer, photographer Peter Britt. The statue will be the only such representation of Britt in Jacksonville.

Levin says photographs alone are not enough to do justice to his contributions. We agree. To donate, call 899-1251.